The Best Extension Cords for Indoor and Outdoor Use (2023)

Table of Contents
What to Consider How We Selected
The Best Extension Cords for Indoor and Outdoor Use (1)

Staff, Courtesy of Amazon

Whether you’re a casual DIY-er or a professional craftsperson, you should have at least one or two extension cords handy for quickly and easily extending the range of your appliances and tools. In addition to different gauge sizes, extension cords also come in a variety of colors, coverings, and patterns, making them convenient for those planning on using them as a permanent fixture, and want them to match their existing home décor. Some even have built-in surge protectors that add multiple power and USB outlets, which should help cut down on additional cords.

What to Consider

The most important thing to consider when choosing your extension cord is whether or not it can handle the amperage and wattage of the item you’re plugging it into. If your cord's amp or wattage rating is lower than that of the device being powered, then the cord can become overheated and possibly result in a fire. This amperage and wattage information is usually easy to find, and should be found on the cord’s packaging, on the cord, or on an attached tag.

The gauge of the extension cord is another factor to think about. Lower gauge cords are thicker and are able to handle more power, while higher gauges are thinner and can handle less. This gauge number—denoted as “AWG”—is typically printed on the cord itself. Using the correct gauge is especially important when dealing with larger, heavy-duty appliances, since a higher gauge may not be able to deliver the amps required, and could result in the cord or plug overheating.

The longer the cord, the greater the voltage drop it will experience. This is dangerous for two reasons. First, a voltage drop causes the load to increase its current draw. This is particularly damaging to motors and other circuit components, such as switches. Second, an under-sized cord will get hotter than one that is properly sized for the load. This could cause the cord to become hot enough that it can melt

How We Selected

I’ve used countless extension cords in my career as a residential and commercial carpenter, and used that experience to help guide my decision making process for this list. I also did our best to include a good variety of options, from light-duty models to use in your bedroom or living room, to ultra heavy-duty options for your garage or workshop. In the interest of safety, I also made sure to only include cords that have been listed with a nationally recognized testing laboratory, whether that be UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ETL (Electrical Testing Laboratory). You should always look for the UL or ETL mark.

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Best Basic Option

Amazon Basics

Amazon Basics Extension Cord (20-Foot)

The Best Extension Cords for Indoor and Outdoor Use (2)

Now 16% off

  • Affordable price
  • Ships in a circle instead of narrow loops

Key Specs
• 13 Amps
•16 AWG

If you’re just looking for a reliable, light-duty extension cord for a reasonable price, this is probably your best bet. At 20 feet long, it should handle most basic extension applications, and at less than $20, it’s price is tough to beat. It comes in either white or black, allowing you to choose which fits best with your individual style.

With only one female outlet, it might not be ideal for those who have multiple machines to plug in and don’t have a surge protector on hand. That said, this minimal design is most likely what allows it to weigh just 1.6 pounds, so keep that in mind.


Best Affordable Heavy-Duty Option


GORILLA Heavy Duty Extension Cord (50-Foot)

The Best Extension Cords for Indoor and Outdoor Use (3)

Key Specs
• 15 Amps
• 12 AWG

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty cord that can withstand the abuse of a busy garage or workshop, this Gorilla model could be a great choice. Its durable jacket protects the 12-gauge copper wire inside, and if any issues do come up, the 5-year warranty should have you covered.

The light-up power indicator is also a convenient feature, letting you know that power is flowing through the cord and whatever you’ve got plugged into is ready to operate. Its 50 foot length does contribute to its 6.87-pound weight, though, so it might not be practical if you want a less bulky model.


Retractable Reel Option


Goodyear Extension Cord Reel (40-Foot)

The Best Extension Cords for Indoor and Outdoor Use (4)


  • Safety breaker button
  • Reinforced cord connector
  • Expensive

Key Specs
• 15 Amps
•12 AWG

This retractable reel model is definitely pricier than regular extension cords, but its convenience and organizational benefits could be worth it to the right user. It’s designed to conveniently lock the 40-foot cord at whatever length you prefer, and retract it back whenever you’re finished with your task. The cord itself is also well-suited for outdoor use, like open garages, and keeps its flexibility in temperatures as high as 221 degrees and as low as -58.

A light-up LCD illuminates the three-prong female end so you’re never left guessing whether your machines are powered up or not.


Best Heavy-Duty Retractable Reel Option


REELCRAFT Power Cord Reel (45-Foot)

The Best Extension Cords for Indoor and Outdoor Use (5)

  • Corrosion-resistant finish
  • Very expensive

Key Specs
• 15 Amps
•12 AWG

Reelcraft has been making reliable, high-quality hose reels for over 50 years, and this model is a great example of why. Its heavy-duty, powder-coated construction maximizes durability, and is designed to stand up to the abuse of productive workshops and commercial spaces. The robust bumper stop and steel interior spring combine to make this cord comfortable to use, and the audible clicking mechanism lets you know when you’re locked into your desired length.

Its three GFCI female connectors allow you to hook up multiple machines at once, and the guide arm can be repositioned to your specific setup.


Best for Extreme Temperatures

US Wire & Cable

US Wire & Cable 99050 Extension Cord

The Best Extension Cords for Indoor and Outdoor Use (6)

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Durable construction
  • Expensive

Key Specs
• 15 Amps
•12 AWG

The pink and blue covering of this cord will make it easy to spot in the back of the garage, but should also help prevent accidental trips when it’s uncoiled on the ground. The female end conveniently lights up, and the cord itself will stay flexible and effective in extreme temperatures, from -94 to 221 degrees. It’s also abrasion- and oil-resistant, so you won’t have to worry too much about wear and tear in the garage or worksite.

The most valuable benefit of this cord is probably the lifetime warranty from US Wire & Cable, which should help to offset the relatively high price tag.


Best Stylish Option


GE Designer Flat Plug Extension Cord (8-Foot)

The Best Extension Cords for Indoor and Outdoor Use (7)

  • Limited lifetime replacement policy
  • Lightweight
  • Ultra-low price
  • Not for outdoor use

Key Specs
• 15 Amps
•16 AWG

If you don’t feel like looking at bulky, heavy-duty cords in your bedroom or office, this stylish GE model might be just what you’re looking for.

Its braided cord cover comes in three different patterns, so it should be easier to match to your existing décor, and the three female plugs provide a good amount of functionality. The flat male end also has a much less cumbersome silhouette than the straight plugs of other models, which makes it easier to fit behind furniture or appliances. It wouldn’t be ideal for outdoor or garage use though, so keep that in mind.

The Best Extension Cords for Indoor and Outdoor Use (8)

  • Low price
  • Flat male plug takes up less space
  • Cube shape might not be convenient for some applications

Key Specs
• 10 Amps

The unique shape of this cord makes it both compact and extra-functional, with four outlets surrounding the unit and three USB ports on the top. Its minimal footprint makes it well-suited for desktops or entertainment areas that don’t have a lot of surface area, but still have multiple items that need to be plugged in. This also makes it convenient for travelers that don’t want to worry about chargers and outlets when staying in a hotel room or rental house. Its 5-foot length is relatively short, but it could be preferred for those who don’t want to wrangle extra cord length.


Best for Outdoor Lighting

Iron Forge Cable

Iron Forge 163G10PB Outdoor Extension Cord (15-Foot)

The Best Extension Cords for Indoor and Outdoor Use (9)

Now 15% off

  • Low price
  • Good range of lengths to choose from
  • Green color might not be great for indoor use

Key Specs
• 13 Amps
•16 AWG

The dark green color of this cord makes it ideal for blending into your lawn or landscaping, and is perfect for exterior lighting, whether that’s seasonal holiday decorations or patio string lights. Plus, since it has three female plugs, it's still functional for day-to-day use even if one is used for a permanent lighting situation.

This cord is available in four different lengths, from 10 to 50 feet, and will remain effective in temperatures from -40 to 140 degrees. At this price, this 16-gauge cord is a great value, and would also be well-suited for those who use corded outdoor power equipment.

Alex RennieAlex Rennie is a freelance writer who specializes in the Home Improvement, DIY, and Tool space.

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